D-Rose. Dave's Railroad Operations Simulation Environment.


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Dave's Railroad Knowledge

The Yahoo! group Ry-ops-industrialSIG is a wonderful trove of railroad operations knowledge, whose archives I intend to mine for nuggets of wisdom. As I do this, or come up with info from other sources, I'll be putting them here.

Passenger trains - Generally the highest priority trains on a railroad, (although perishables in times past and intermodal these days can rival pax).

In days of scheduled trains (i.e. TT&TO), the pax train may have had hot freights running as 2nd, etc., sections, to avoid needing additional schedule entries and assoc. paperwork. NS ran the Amtrak's Crescent like this in the 90's, with intermodal trains in hot pursuit; (as long as everyone was out of the way for the pax, run a fleet through).

Passenger stations could range from being grand (i.e. GCT) to invisible (i.e. no siding, just a wide spot on the tracks). A RR could own the station outright, or share it with another. "Union" stations existed, i.e. in Kansas City, where all the town's roads would come together in one station (like today's airports).

Stations could be trackside (i.e. Lancaster, PA) or end-of-line (i.e. GCT, I think).

There were various types of passenger trains: local (stops at most stations), commuter (stays fairly local to a city), limited (stops pretty much at big cities), excursion (not regularly scheduled, but run for special demand).

Switchers may exist at pax stations, and may be available to do any/all switching. This may mean cutting off from the train to rearrange things, or could just mean coupling onto a car that's sitting there from the last run of that train. The pax cars may well be loaded while this occurs.

Pax switching could be fairly involved. A consist book would describe how the train would be made up, (i.e. with what cars, and in what order). Breaking a train down could involve setting the diner on a service track, Pullman cars to their track, etc. Other pax-related switching involved RPOs, express and express reefers, etc. A separate coach yard would exist for pax equipment (presumably near a large station that terminated many trains)

Types of cars on a pax train: coach, club, parlor, business, diner, lounge, observation, sleeper, Pullman, baggage, milk car (could carry cans in a baggage-style car; could be bulk milk tank car), RPO, express (incl. express reefers). Non-people-carrying cars would be placed directly behind the engine(s), and would be referred to as "head end" cars.

Pax trains can add/drop cars along the way, including transferring them to other trains/railroads.

Pax trains can also split trains in two/join from two as well (i.e. Amtrak's Crescent and Gulf Breeze, etc.), and would have been on the schedule as such. The combined train may have had power enough for both trains, with each split train taking its half. RDC cars could/would have operated like this as well.

I recall from personal experience coming into Ft. Worth, going into a wye, and backing into the station, then proceeding out. Other configurations could include pulling into a stub-end platform and having a runaround track to get the engine onto the other end of the train.

Pax cars were heavier than freight cars when both are empty, and lighter when both are loaded.

Passenger tickets could be sold reserved or unreserved; an additional ticket was needed for Pullman travel.

Milk and express freight travelled on pax trains. (LCL was considered freight; putting LCL on a pax train made it a "mixed", technically.) Express freight could be carried in the baggage car, (or baggage/express car), but could also be picked up as a whole-car shipment (i.e. magazines with a wide distribution would be picked up in a fully loaded car, then split up at a REA hub). Big express commodities: mags, newspapers, fish (and perhaps other perishables?)

In steam days, a heater line would run from the engine to the cars to provide heat for the passengers. As a result, head end (i.e. RPO, REA, milk, etc.) cars would have heater lines as well, even if they themselves weren't heated.

If there were enough traffic, multiple sections of a train would be run. (This applies to freight traffic as well.) This could apply to part or all of a train's schedule. At times, if a train was running late, a new section could be started at a later point on the schedule and run on-time, with the original section becoming the 2nd section at the point the new section started; pparently, this happened historically as well as recently (on Amtrak). Also, not all sections needed to carry people; some might be all mail, all milk, all express, etc., if the traffic warranted it.

Passenger traffic declined through the 1950's, as travellers switched to cars and airplanes for their travel. But even with the decline, railroads were still under regulation, and couldn't just drop passenger service. As a result, they'd offer mixed trains (pax and freight on the same train), which wasn't as pleasant to ride, as often the pax car was at the end, and would get yanked around via the train's slack. Towards the very end, it's reported that on some roads, the "passenger" equipment was the caboose, and there was, to say the least, limited seating/tickets available. By that time, many railroads were chasing the remaining pax traffic away, and by 1970, had convinced U.S. gov't regulators to form Amtrak to take pax duty off their shoulders (although some local passenger service ran past Amtrak's formation).

Mixed trains varied in makeup by road; some would put the pax cars at the head end, but most, it seems, went at the tail. At the tail, the pax cars would act as (or as mentioned may well have been) the caboose, and would have had their own stove, not relying on the engine for heat in the winter. Pax equipment on the head end would have made it harder to switch the freight cars as well.

Historically, pax (and freight) trains would be numbered, with the lower number trains generally being the more "important" (i.e. higher priority). In more recent times, Amtrak still numbers their trains, while other railroads have their own naming conventions.

Further research:

  • "Passenger Milk trains"
  • "consist book"
  • passenger reports? made by the conductor? "Passenger crews have to account for the money recieved and keep track of pasengers and tickets sold, from and to where." -- Dave Husman
  • practical proximity of coach yards to stations?
  • types of passenger trains? (local, limited, etc.)
  • express vs express reefer
  • Post 1970, non-Amtrak, American (and Canadian) passenger service
  • Rider cars?

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